Brown Rice Shrimp Paella with Chorizo

4.69 from 29 votes
1 hour 15 minutes
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This Brown Rice Shrimp Paella recipe with Chorizo is a whole-grain, healthier twist on classic paella!  The recipe makes a big batch so it’s perfect for a big family dinner or for a casual gathering with friends. Serve with Mediterranean Braised Green Beans or Braised Greens with Olives and Lemon on the side!

Brown Rice Paella with Shrimp and Chorizo in white enamel cast iron skillet on wood cutting board.

Why This Recipe is a Keeper!

The rice that is traditionally used for paella is generally not available at most area grocery stores. Typically, Bomba, Senia, Bahia or Calasparra are the varieties of rice used but can be hard to find, only available in specialty or international markets or require you to order them online. Not to mention, a bag of specialty rice can cost as much as $15 each.

At the height of the recent pandemic, the rice section at my local grocery store had been practically stripped clean however I consistently saw brown rice.  This leads me to believe either a lot of people just don’t like it or they don’t know how to cook it.

Although plain white rice will work for paella, brown rice is a whole grain so it’s better for you than white rice.  We prefer it to white rice!

This brown rice paella recipe:

  • Is easy to make!
  • Has an authentic Spanish flavor!
  • Is made healthier with fiber-rich brown rice.
  • Does not require a specialty paella pan and is made in one pan.
Brown Rice Paella with Shrimp and Chorizo with lemon wedges.

But first…

What is paella?

Paella is a classic rice dish in Spanish cuisine that’s typically made with short-grain white rice such as Bomba, Senia, Bahia or Calasparra and cooked in a large, shallow pan.  It originated in Valencia and is loaded with seafood or chicken and possibly other classic Spanish specialties like chorizo and serrano ham.  Arborio or other short to medium-grain rice can be used in its place and it’s more readily available than Bomba.

Brown Rice Paella with Shrimp and Chorizo with lemons in white enamel cast iron skillet.

How to make a Brown Rice Shrimp Paella Recipe with Chorizo:

Recipe Ingredients:

Here are the ingredients you’ll need to make this brown rice shrimp paella recipe along with how to prep them. See the recipe card below for the exact quantities.

Ingredients for Brown Rice Paella with Shrimp and Chorizo in glass bowls.

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions:

  • Chorizo: There are two types of chorizo–both made with pork, although you can also use chicken or turkey chorizo:
    • Mexican chorizo, which is uncooked.
    • Spanish, which is cured and more like salami or pepperoni.
    • For this dish, I prefer Mexican fresh chorizo, which I buy as links from The Fresh Market.
  • Tomatoes: I used fresh diced tomatoes but canned diced tomatoes may also be used. You don’t need to drain them but keep in mind they’ll add additional liquid so you may want to reduce the amount of chicken broth.
  • Paprika: I like to use Hungarian paprika because it packs a bigger flavor punch than sweet paprika.
  • Smoked Paprika: Spanish smoked paprika adds smoky flavor intensity.
  • Saffron: No paella recipe is complete without saffron. Spanish saffron is expensive, but a little goes a long way. Hungarian or Middle Eastern saffron is less expensive but won’t deliver the same lovely saffron flavor.
  • Brown Rice: Use long, medium or short-grain brown rice.
  • Shrimp: I’m passionate about only using WILD-CAUGHT shrimp for my personal chef clients and here at home.  Wild-caught shrimp has a superior texture than farmed.  We found we could even reheat this dish without any adverse effects on the shrimp and without it getting tough or rubbery.

Step-By-Step Instructions:

  • Gather and prep all the ingredients.
  • Heat olive oil in a large deep skillet, saute or paella pan over medium-high heat.
  • Place the whole fresh chorizo links in the skillet, reduce heat to medium and brown well on all sides.
  • Transfer to a plate and let cool to the touch. When cool enough to touch, slice the sausage into 1/4 to 1/3-inch thick slices. THE SAUSAGE WON’T BE COOKED ALL THE WAY THROUGH.
  • Refresh the oil if needed. Add the onion and cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until it begins to soften.
  • Add the red bell pepper and tomato and continue cooking for another 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Add the garlic, brown rice, Hungarian and smoked paprika, cayenne, saffron threads, salt and black pepper and give the rice a good stir to coat with the fat.
  • Place the sausage slices into the pan.
  • Carefully pour 5 cups of chicken broth into the pan. Bring to a boil.
  • Cover completely, reduce heat to low and simmer for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the liquid is almost absorbed and the rice is very close to tender. Adjust the heat as necessary while it’s simmering to keep it at a good pace and stir at least twice.
  • At the 45 to 50-minute point, there should still be a little bit of liquid in the pan. If not, add a little more chicken broth as you don’t want the rice to get too dry or it won’t cook. (A little crusty rice called a socarrat on the bottom is desirable.)
Process shot with rice cooked.
  • Add the shrimp and cook for 5 to 6 minutes or until the shrimp is pink and thoroughly cooked.
Process shot of paella with shrimp added.
  • Stir in the peas and heat through. Cover and let rest for 5 minutes. Taste and adjust for seasoning.
Process shot of paella with peas added.
  • Garnish the shrimp paella with chopped fresh parsley and serve with lemon wedges.

So delicious and this shrimp paella is even on the healthier side!

Skillet of Brown Rice Paella with Shrimp and Chorizo with lemon wedges and bowl of paprika.

Chef Tip:

  • Because brown rice takes longer to cook than white rice, you’ll need to stir it a couple of times but try not to stir the last 10 to 15 minutes. One of the most desirable parts of a paella is the crust that forms at the bottom of the pan which is called a socarrat.
Brown Rice Paella with Shrimp and Chorizo with lemon wedges in white cast iron enamel skillet.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Do you need to rinse brown rice?

Before cooking brown rice, be sure to rinse it well.  Rinsing washes away any grit or dust and brown rice seems to have quite a bit!  It’s also going to help you get better “separate” grains in this dish which is essential in paella. Simply place it in a fine-mesh sieve and rinse well under cool running water.

Can I use cooked brown rice in this shrimp paella recipe?

Yes, but be sure it’s not overcooked. You’ll also need to adjust the cooking process:
>You won’t need as much chicken broth.
>Cook the sausage, onions, bell pepper and tomatoes as directed.
>Add the garlic and spices and cook briefly–approximately 30 seconds. This will help the spices to “bloom” as they won’t have as much cooking time.
>Add 1 cup of chicken broth along with the sausage and bring it to a simmer to finish cooking the sausage.
>Add the rice and stir well.
>Add the shrimp and cook it through then add the peas and parsley.

Can I make a brown rice shrimp paella recipe ahead of time?

Yes, it can be made to the point of adding the shrimp 24 hours ahead of time. Let it cool and refrigerate. It’s going to tighten up so you’ll need to add extra chicken broth to loosen it. Cover and gently bring it to a simmer over low heat. Add the shrimp, cook it through then add the peas and parsley.

Pan of paella garnished with lemon wedges with some served into an individual bowl.

More shrimp recipes you’ll love!

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Brown Rice Paella with Shrimp and Chorizo in white enamel cast iron skillet on wood cutting board.

Brown Rice Shrimp Paella with Chorizo

4.69 from 29 votes

Click to Rate!

By: Carol | From A Chef’s Kitchen
Brown Rice Shrimp Paella with Chorizo is a whole-grain, healthier twist on classic paella!  The recipe makes a big batch so it's perfect for a big family dinner or for a casual gathering with friends.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Course Fish and Seafood
Cuisine Spanish
Servings 8
Calories 383 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil - or as needed
  • 1 pound fresh chorizo links - (approximately 3)
  • 1 large onion - finely chopped
  • 1 large red bell pepper - chopped
  • 2 large plum tomatoes - chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic - chopped
  • 2 cups long-grain brown rice - rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon Hungarian paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt - or to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper - to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper - or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon Spanish saffron threads
  • 6 cups chicken broth - divided
  • 1 1/2 pounds large shrimp - (16-20 count) peeled and deveined
  • 1 cup frozen green peas - thawed under cold water
  • Chopped fresh parsley - for garnish
  • Lemon wedges

Instructions
 

  • Heat olive oil in a large deep skillet, saute or paella pan over medium-high heat.
  • Place the whole fresh chorizo links in the skillet, reduce heat to medium and brown well on all sides.
  • Transfer to a plate and let cool to the touch. When cool enough to touch, slice the sausage into 1/4 to 1/3-inch thick slices. THE SAUSAGE WON’T BE COOKED ALL THE WAY THROUGH.
  • Refresh oil if needed. Add the onion and cook 3-4 minutes or until beginning to soften. Add the red bell pepper and tomato and continue cooking another 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the garlic, brown rice, Hungarian and smoked paprika, cayenne, saffron threads, salt and black pepper and give the rice a good stir to coat with the fat.
  • Place the sausage slices into the pan.
  • Carefully pour 5 cups of chicken broth into the pan. Bring to a boil.
  • Cover completely, reduce heat to low and simmer 45-50 minutes or until liquid is almost absorbed and rice is very close to tender. Adjust heat as necessary to keep it at a good simmer and stir at least twice.
  • At this point, there should still be a little bit of liquid in the pan. If not, add a little more chicken broth as you don’t want the rice to get too dry. (A little crusty rice on the bottom is desirable.)
  • Add the shrimp and cook 5-6 minutes or until shrimp is pink and thoroughly cooked.
  • Stir in the peas and heat through. Cover and let rest for 5 minutes. Taste and adjust for seasoning.
  • Garnish with chopped fresh parsley and serve with lemon wedges.

Notes

Because brown rice takes longer to cook than white rice, you’ll need to stir it a couple of times but try not to stir the last 10 to 15 minutes. One of the most desirable parts of a paella is the crust that forms at the bottom of the pan which is called a socarrat.
MAKE AHEAD:  Can be made to the point of adding the shrimp 24 hours ahead of time. Let it cool and refrigerate. It’s going to tighten up so you’ll need to add extra chicken broth to loosen it. Cover and gently bring it to a simmer over low heat. Add the shrimp, cook it through then add the peas and parsley.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 | Calories: 383kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 21g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 151mg | Sodium: 2122mg | Potassium: 332mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 1897IU | Vitamin C: 48mg | Calcium: 86mg | Iron: 2mg

These are estimated values generated from a nutritional database using unbranded products. Please do your own research with the products you’re using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.

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4.69 from 29 votes (27 ratings without comment)

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Recipe Rating




6 Comments

  1. 3 stars
    There was way too much liquid in this recipe which made the brown rice super soupy. I drained off about 2 cups of the liquid, but it was still too wet to get the crunchy bottom. It was a little blah…maybe if I had used less liquid, the spices could have been more concentrated.

    1. Hi, Kat, Thanks so much for your feedback. I’m curious to know how you were able to cook brown rice with only three cups of liquid, unless you used precooked, converted brown rice, or Minute brown rice. The standard ratio is 2:1, which means you would need four cups of liquid for two cups of brown rice. The recipe says to start with five. Did you add all six? I’ve cooked a lot of brown rice as a personal chef and it’s our preferred type at home and that 2:1 ratio has never worked; I’ve always needed more water/broth than 2:1.

      1. I used Trader Joe’s Brown Jasmine rice. I measured the liquid I took off and it was more like a cup.

      2. Thanks for that information. I checked their website and in the description, it says it only takes 20 minutes to cook. That’s about the same amount of time as regular white rice, so you most certainly would have excess liquid.

    1. Hi, Thanks so much for your comment. I use 1 tablespoon, but if you’re unsure, most definitely start with 1 teaspoon. Thanks again!